You’ll have to forgive me for rushing through the next few days of premieres – whatever else this season is, it’s big, and my schedule is making it impossible to keep up.
Clockwork Planet – 01
So here’s another of the LN adaptations that I had modestly high hopes for, a sci-fi from Xebec (who’s something of a sci-fi specialist). Based on the early buzz I was expecting the premiere of Clockwork Planet to be awful or something, but I should know by now not to put any trust in that. Sure, there was some definite symptoms of “Light Novel Disease” here, but on the whole I rather liked this – it was sure as salt a thousand times better than the first LN adaptation I reviewed this season, that’s for damn sure.
Clockwork Planet is set in a post-catastrophic world a thousand years in the future, where humanity has basically destroyed the Earth, but the planet has somehow been remade in a kind of steampunk clock mode by a master clockmaker called “Y” (Y not?). OK, whatever – it’s a start, I suppose. The hero of the piece is Miura Naoto (Nanjou Yoshino, who sounds remarkably like Horie Yui when she’s playing a boy), who seems to be a high schooler but looks about 12. Naoto is a boy who apparently lives alone and really loves clocks (maybe a little too much). One day RyuZU (Kakuma Ai) literally drops out of the sky in a giant coffin and pretty much wrecks Naoto’s workshop (which is also his house). RyuZU is beautiful and has a lovely sound to her gears (she’s a robot), but Naoto picks up a dissonant note and takes it upon himself to fix it and try and waker her up.
I don’t know about the plot here yet – I mean, it’s pretty out there, even for a LN. I don’t know about the loli who insults military guys and gets away with it and sleeps in the nude, or her snarky chaffeur/butler dude. I also have issues with the usual LN bullcrap – clumsy exposition where everything is explained in the first two minutes, and a jump right into a speeding plot with little buildup, preamble or development. Without a doubt way too much happens here for a premiere, and a little setup would have gone a long way.
Still – I quite enjoyed this episode on the whole. I liked both Naoto and RyuZU, in his case because he’s endearingly loopy and good-natured and in hers because she has a sort of world-weary pragmatism you don’t often see in android/robot girls. They’re good together, and good as well is the world-building in the visual sense. This clockwork planet is eye-catching (Art Director Kai Masatoshi is an industry legend), the CGI isn’t too badly overused, and the overall look is pleasingly retro. There’s real talent involved here – Art Designer Kubota Masahiro, Animation Director/Designer Shimamura Shuichi, Director Nagasawa Tsuyoshi – all have been involved in some truly classic anime over the decades. I’m hoping things slow down a bit now, and the audience is given a chance to ease into this world rather than try to hang on for dear life. If so, I think Clockwork Planet has a chance to be quite good.
Renai Bokoun – 01
Renai Bokoun definitely takes the comedy Hippocratic Oath to heart – first, be funny. It certainly is – and right now, it doesn’t seem too worried about anything else. Which is perfectly fine – as long as it stays funny.
Superficially, Love Tyrant is a satire of Death Note – though perhaps “spoof” would be closer to the truth. There’s a “Kiss Note“, which only a Cupid can write in, and in which if two names are written together they’ll kiss within 24 hours and become a couple. If not, the idiot angel “Guri” who’s in charge of the notebook will die. Guri is a big yaoi fan, and accidentally writes the name of hapless teen Aino Seiji in the notebook thinking he’s a seiyuu she likes. There’s also a first-class yandere named Hiyama who’s yandere for Seiji, and a siscon imouto who’s almost yandere for Hiyama. Oh, and a talking cat (actually a possessed cat) that’s Guri’s supervisor.
None of this is meant to be taken remotely seriously, believe me. It’s satire of the very broad kind, full of deformed faces and chibi intercuts and face-pulling and comic stabbings. If there’s any real attempt to reference Death Note beyond the hook I can’t see it yet, but that might crop up in future eps I suppose. In the meantime Renai Bokoun is one of those slapstick comedies you just turn your brain off and laugh along with (think Haiyore! Nyaruko-san, but even less serious). It’s not my absolute favorite style of anime humor but it’s executed well here, and as long as it can make me chuckle consistently I’ll keep watching.
Re:CREATORS – 01
Re:CREATORS being an original series was, of course, something of a mystery going into the first episode. And to be honest it still is – I don’t know what to make of it. There’s certainly some potential here, but I don’t have the foggiest idea which way these series is going to go.
With a director like Aoki Ei (Hourou Musuko, Fate/Zero) and original concept and designs by Hiroe Rei (Black Lagoon), Re:CREATORS was certainly more than a blip on the radar. So far it seems to be about what we’ve come to expect from Aoki (for whom Wandering Son seems to ave been the odd show out) – flashy and pretty stuff in the mold of “Fate” And Aldnoah.Zero. Add in a soundtrack by Sawano Hiroyuki and the vibe is pretty much complete. There’s just something to this series that suggests big commercial aspirations, and there’s nothing wrong with that if there’s some substance to back it up.
Is there? Well, who knows. Our basic story gives us an anime-loving aspiring creator in Mizushino Souta (Yamashita Daiki), who – while waiting for the new episode of his favorite anime to stream on his iPad – finds its heroine mysteriously appear in his bedroom. She’s naturally rather suspicious of Souta’s halting explanations, and eventually her arch-enemy shows up and things get rather heated. Soon enough another character from another fictional universe 9at last I assume it’s a different one) shows up too. There’s fighting and flying and destroying Mini Coopers, all to the strains of power pop.
OK, here’s the thing – right now, we have a series full of LN cliches. So much so, in fact, that it’s very premise seems to be a LN cliche about LN cliches coming to life. Whether Re:CREATORS turns out to be genuinely interesting probably hinges on whether it’s going to take a critical, deconstructive approach to the phenomena of light novel popularity, or simply try and exploit it for commercial purposes. If you asked me which it’s likely to be based on one episode, I’d have to say I haven’t got a clue – the presence of Aoki and Hiroe gives me some hope, but there’s nothing in the actual content so far to suggest this show will be anything beyond generic. I’m certainly intrigued, and the production values are impressive enough in their gaudy fashion. But I’m nowhere near ready to feel genuinely optimistic.